Growth of online sports betting poses significant public health challenge – Global Health News Wire

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Dr. McGee’s new research focuses on the real impacts of online sports betting on young men. (Image credit: humonia)

An increase in the use of online sports betting platforms, and promotional tactics such as free betting to attract users, pose a significant and growing public health challenge that requires urgent attention from policymakers, according to the company. author of a new academic study.

Write in the Public health journalDr Darragh McGee of the University of Bath highlights how the standardization of online sports betting in recent years has taken its toll on the lives of young adult men.

His analysis describes a ‘gamblification of sport’ – whereby new mobile application technologies and a liberalization of regulations surrounding sports advertising have combined to broaden the appeal and entry point of the game. something that sports fans can “enjoy” while watching football, horse racing and an array of other sports, he explains.

Based on in-depth interviews with 32 young men between the ages of 18 and 35 engaged to some extent in online betting, four main themes emerge from his research:

* Gambling has become a standardized aspect of being a sports fan for young men, many of whom increasingly view the occasional bet of money as vital to their enjoyment of the sport. For Callum (27), interviewed as part of the research:

“The game has ruined the sport because you can’t watch it without thinking, ‘I should put a five on first base.’ All my friends can’t watch it anymore without betting. When I was younger I had can’t wait to get home from school to watch Man United play the Champions League… Now I’m sitting there thinking about what to bet on tonight. Can’t remember the last time I watched the match like a true fan.

* A perception of “faceless” sports betting platforms via mobile applications has increased the propensity of people to engage in online betting. This represents a distinct change from a time when people had to go to a bookmaker / betting shop to bet on sports. Joseph (26) explained:

“Why would you cross the street when everything is on your phone?” It was so easy to pick up my phone and go.

* “Free betting” incentives and in-game promotions have played an important role in attracting more people to online sports betting. Josh (23) said:

“It definitely attracts people. And it encourages you to think bigger. Bet 365 was making a 100% bonus if you deposit £ 200. All of a sudden you think you have £ 400 credit to bet on. And you have to bet a number of times, but the offer has caught your eye by the time you realize it.

* Online sports gambling acts as a slippery slope towards other gambling related harms, including financial insecurity, debt, mortgage defaults, which in turn and in some cases lead to loss of money. employment, mental health problems and family breakdowns. Tom (31) explained:

“Visually, I am in debt because of payday loans. I’m blacklisted with them all. I’m in debt of around £ 15,000 to them alone. Everything for the game. It took my life for a while. When my daughter was born, I used to sit on the computer to play continuously all day.

The study, which was conducted in Bristol (England) and Derry (Northern Ireland), included three phases of data collection: participatory focus groups, a 30-day play diary and semi-structured interviews.

Dr Darragh McGee of the Bath Department of Health explains: “This study examined the impact of the growth of online sports gambling on the perceptions and participation in gambling practices among young adult men in the UK.

“It clearly highlights how the exponential growth of online sports gambling is having broader social, economic and public health impacts beyond the leisure pursuits of young men, with revealing and distressing information from those who participate in online gambling on a daily basis.

“And while the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily disrupted the sports gambling market, record audiences since the resumption of live sports in recent weeks may well have exacerbated its detrimental effects on many young men. “

“We urgently need to reframe the debates on the game of sport, to recognize it as a public health problem that has important implications for individual, family and community well-being. “

Reflecting on recent initiatives, including the remote gaming association’s ban on the “whistle whistle” on advertisements during coverage, he adds: products.

“Greater accountability should also be demanded from key sport stakeholders, including clubs, athletes, league associations and event organizers who benefit from the revenue streams provided by gambling operators without take due account of the public health implications on their fan base. “

Its conclusion highlights Luton Town FC’s decision to reject gambling sponsorship and the end of its Everton FC partnership with SportPesa two years earlier as important ethical precedents for sports organizations and athletes to follow in the review. of their sponsorship agreements with gambling operators.

Dr McGee, who is one of the next generation thinkers of BBC Radio 3 – AHRC focusing on this topic, is now expanding this work by highlighting the increasingly global nature of the sports gambling market, the study inspired a new project, recently funded under the British Academy’s Youth Futures program and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

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